News Article

NSS 2018: No Boycott

The NSS is a national survey delivered to third year students (placement, second year undergraduates who undertook a foundation, course transferees and final year under graduates). It is used to highlight student experience, implement enhancements, showcase areas of best practice and pay acknowledgement to your time at Brunel, your last chance to have your say.

It is also used as a metric to influence the Teaching Excellence Frame work (TEF)* ranking of an institution.

*The TEF is a measurement used to assess the teaching quality of an institution.

The survey can be used for the ranking of the University and its’ courses in the national press guides, to help prospective students choose their future University, and can be linked to funding of specific courses as well as international scholarships. It plays a huge part in course feedback and enhancement for student experience in Brunel and in relation to specific courses.

Last year you may have noticed the orange and purple posters from the union urging you to Boycott the NSS and their absence this year.

Poster blindness is a wonderful thing and chances are you know no difference, but a small nagging feeling in the back of your mind is telling you not to fill in that survey this year but you may have no idea why…

So, what happened, why did we bombard your lectures and your inboxes, and why should you care?

In January 2017, 25 students Unions across the nation stood in solidarity of a national campaign.

A strong belief of the NUS and the Union of Brunel Students is one where education is accessible to all. With the National Students Survey being used as a metric in the Teaching excellence framework ranking and the ability to manipulate fee costs, students took a stance.

By linking fee rises to student satisfaction, the government is causing a divided educational experience for students. Forcing a market of varying degree costs, increasing inequality in terms of students entering the market of higher education and narrowing the field of job prospects and potentially damaging the perceived value of the institutions degree.

For those last year in their final chapter of Brunel filling out the survey, a fee rise won’t affect the crippling debt of their loans, the dent in their overdraft, that part-time job they held down just to pay the bus fare or the lonely tin of beans sat at the back of the cupboard. It will however affect those who come after you, friends in lower years, family members and your children. Your positive experience being translated into accentuating a financial and reputational negative.

Should income, upbringing, social class and schooling affect where you choose to start your future? Should the positive experiences of students be translated into those who wish for the same experience having to pay more? Should your opinions and feedback be used as the governments’ tool for justifying fee rises and marketing education?

NO! And therefore, we boycotted. Not because we love campaigning, and not because we think your opinions aren’t valuable. Simply because we think the value of an experience should not be used to increase the debt of those wishing to seek a higher education, enrich their knowledge and further their employment opportunities.

Why then are we not boycotting this year?

For now, the House of Lords have decided to freeze the tuition fee rise, for how long this is not known. The weighting of the NSS as a metric of the TEF ranking has been halved and the success of those students Unions who worked together in the boycott has left the system fragile. It has sent a strong message to the government.

This year Brunel University have chosen not to complete a TEF submission, due to other requirements from the OfS leaving the NSS as a tool solely for gathering opinion and therefore not a weapon of fee manipulation.

Considering this a motion was passed at student assembly to freeze our boycott.

Brunel University will be using this data to help improve the overall student experience of its students, allowing you to give recognition to what you loved about your time here and what perhaps you think should have been different.

By filling out the survey you are not just giving feedback and impacting positive change for students of Brunel. You are also improving the Universities positioning in the league tables which translates positively to your job applications and future post Brunel.


If you wish to fill in the survey please click here

To read more on the NSS boycott by NUS click here